Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE
We head into the bye week going through five players that have impressed us. Any guesses on the writer's favorite position in the game?
Vontaze Burfict, a high-profile undrafted free agent signed by the Cincinnati Bengals following the 2012 NFL draft, is currently second on the team with 62 tackles this season, according to the mysterious coaches film. Not only could a case be made that Burfict is Cincinnati's rookie of the year, we think he's damn-near run away with it already.
Though Cincinnati hasn't appeared to sport the most dominating offensive line in the NFL, Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling rank No. 5 and No. 10 respectively in the NFL at offensive guard, according to Pro Football Focus. That's better that the coveted free agent guard Carl Nicks, currently ranked No. 11. Additionally Boling is ranked as the league's second-best pass blocker, behind only Rob Sims of Detroit.
While we're focused on the offensive line, we're turning our attention to the ever-impressive Andre Smith, who went from bum to powerful boss protecting Andy Dalton's front-side. Smith has squared off against Ryan Kerrigan, Jeremy Mincey, Jabaal Sheard, Jared Odrick, Ziggy Hood among others, allowing only one quarterback sack all season. Alright, so those names aren't generally that impressive, he's at least doing his job against players lining up across from him.
Then you have All Stars like Geno Atkins who terrifyingly continues to get better. After only seven games this year, Atkins is 0.5 sacks away from tying a career-high 7.5 sacks last season. He's the most dominating defensive tackle in the game. Don't take my word for it. According to Pro Football Focus, he's running away with the argument, scoring a 23.3 while Gerald McCoy is listed as the second-best defensive tackle in the NFL with a score of 15.5. And it's not just the pass rush either. His defensive run score of 6.2 is fifth among all defensive tackles.